Monday, September 10, 2012

Out There Up North

I spent most of last week drilling along a stretch of two-lane highway south of the little town of Oakville, Washington.
The actual work site was on the Chehalis Indian Reservation, which was more butt-hurt and dog-ass than most of the northwest Washington rez, and that's saying a lot since outside the Jamestown S'Klallam Rez the little dogpatches along Highway 101 that line the west side of the Puget Sound are among the saddest and sorriest of the firstcomer gulags we've made for them to slowly die in, we white-eyes in our impartial majesty.

To give you an idea, the first day went badly - the first day of drilling usually does, but this was worse than even the usual with a bad combination of caving AND "heaving" sand and gravel. To give you a notion I've worked in this business for twenty years and have never, never encountered heaving gravel. It was awful, and we fought with it the whole day and managed to achieve a draw at best - and I suggested to the flagging crew-boss that he save time by leaving his warning signs in place and just turning them end-on to the traffic. He looked at me like I had two heads.

"Did you see that trash back up the road?" he growled, and, yes, I had noticed the little hamlet of raggedy shack-islands ringed with rust-red reefs of derelict vehicles of all varieties. "Those bastards'd have these signs gone in sixty seconds." I scoffed at the notion that anyone would be so low-rent as to steal cheap warning signs, but the flagger just repeated that the hardcases laired in those shacks would have the entire signage away to sell the five pounds of aluminum in the uprights.

So we took in the signs for the night. What a sad old world.

Anyway, that wasn't really my point for this post, since you could really care less about my work. No, it was this;
These oddities are called, collectively, the "Godspodor Monuments", and stand just east of I-5 near the little town of Toledo, Washington.

According to the linked page at "Weird Washington" these gomers are the brainchild of one Dominic Godspodor, a wealthy "eccentric" (and you'll note that wealth moves you from "batshit crazy" to the more benign "eccentric"; as always, bags of money are the KY Jelly of Social Acceptability) who wanted to honor a bizarre congeries of things and people; Mother Teresa, the Native Americans (of "all tribes", according to the billboard that sits near these things), the victims of the Holocaust, the victims of drunk drivers, African-American slaves, Susan B. Anthony, Jonas Salk, William Seward, and Lewis and Clark.


The pillars you see in the picture are his tributes to the first three; don't ask me which is which, although I'm guessing that the one with the big Christ is NOT the Holocaust one or, at least, I hope so. That would be way too much like baptizing Anne Frank, or have the Mormons already gotten around to that?

I really don't know what else to say about these things, other than they're butt-ugly in a particularly up-in-your-face sort of ugly way. Every year I have passed it the site looks worse and worse; the field unmowed, the steel of the pillars rusting, the shoddy explanatory billboard sagging and faded.

While I have a certain amount of sympathy for the rich bastard's hobby, I have to wonder; would the half-million he spent on this gawdawful have been better spent building a factory of some sort on the Chehalis Rez, so some of all those tribes' modern survivors would have an honest job and a decent, living wage?

I suspect that Teresa and the Shoah victims would have been okay with that.

But regardless, there they stand; strange unattractive pillars in an empty field where the busy world rushes past them with no more than a puzzled glance.

Mind you, these things aren't exactly the oddest oddity along the I-5 corridor in Washington State; the "Uncle Sam" billboard south of Chehalis is a treat packed with wingnutty goodness.
And there's always Mima Mounds, Nature's contribution to Weird Washington.
But that's the State of Washington for you; ex boreas semper aliquid whacki. Eccentric monuments, wingnut billboards, and impoverished Indians crouching in the woods.

Makes me damn glad to be home south of the Big River.


Lisa said...

This is a wonderful post which does what a thoughtful person ought to do, which is to synthesize the elements of their life into a sensible whole.

I, for one, do enjoy reading about your work. Also, I did not know about the poverty so close to the lovely Puget Sound. When I think of that area I think of the beauty and imagine only the well-heeled live there, so this was a revelation.

And Mr. Godspodor ... what must he have thought? I wonder if he thought to channel anything, like Reich's Orgasmatron; perhaps they are just batty nuevo onion domes; perhaps they are his Bucky Balls.

I like this:

bags of money are the KY Jelly of Social Acceptability.


Lisa said...

I was so intrigued by Gospoder I looked him up:

Dominic F. Gospodor was the fifth of eight children. Born in Jamestown, N.D., he enlisted in the Army and fought in the Battle of the Bulge in Germany. He ended up in Alaska at the Elmendorf Air Force Base.

. . .

After settling in the Anchorage area, Gospodor bought up bare land in the years before Alaska became a state, selling decades later. He told The Chronicle he made his money in "fortunate" real estate dealings.

In his later years the millionaire would walk and ride a scooter through downtown Seattle, where he lived in a high-rise. He loved talking with people, even street people that often were ignored by others, [friend] Schefers said. In his will he left a sizeable bequest to charities that care for the homeless, she said.

His dabbling in unique construction began in the early 1990s when he saw a small Byzantine Catholic church in Anchorage that lacked a garage. He decided an Alaskan priest needed a garage during the winter, and vowed to build one. Over time the project expanded to include the rectory and church hall. In all his $12,000 garage turned into an $800,000 renovation that featured a dramatic internally lit copper Byzantine dome that glowed through thousands of tiny holes.

So he gave the world beuaty, as he saw it, and isn't that what we're charged to do?

As one man quoted in the piece said, his structures have kind of fallen by the wayside . . . what they needed was a hamburger stand at the bottom, he noted.

FDChief said...

Godspodor sounds like a guy with his heart in the right place. Unfortunately, his TASTE appears to have been confined to his mouth...

Still, I kinda of like the old macguffin. He sounds like a "character" of the best variety, who has a sort of understanding of his "character-istics" and is willing to flaunt his oddities...

Lisa said...

Well, as per his style gaffes, seems he never had the mediating effect of a woman's touch, not that all women have good taste, mind ...

Agreed: His heart was in the right place.

FDChief said...

My dear, you are the epitome of style and grace. But I managed to blunder onto five minutes of something called "Snooki and JWoww" the other day and I have to tell you; had I been exposed to that sort of female in my tender years I would have seriously considered a career as a eunuch.

Dear God! Those women's touches would have put Muhammad Ali in his prime to shame...

Lisa said...

You are kind. I have overheard the women of whom you speak.

We could while away a coffee shop date pondering why and how this has come to pass, and possible remedies. Your comment is powerful: If this is what young men face today, perhaps that is why they go down the rabbit hole of online living.

FDChief said...

I don't know whether this is much of a sea-change in the ways of a maid with a man so much as a change in the sorts of ways we accept and encourage.

That is - I suspect that these idiots who know neither shame nor fear have always been around. But for the most part their stupidities and outright crudities got nothing but stick from popular culture; look at the movies, books, songs, and stories from almost the beginning of the print era until the last couple of decades. The rude mechanicals - the Dogsberries, the Stooges - were presented as such; rude, ignorant fools that you and I were encouraged to mock and despise.

Sure, there was an underground where you could consume things like porn and dime novels, but it was just that; an underground, something that you were ashamed to admit to in public.

But we tossed out the old rules somewhere after WW2. And I won't say that was an unmitigated Bad Thing; the old rules made for a lot of misery, hypocrisy, and contempt for the "common people"...

But...when the Common People got the go-ahead to be as Common as they wanted to, in public, without shame or remorse...

Well, the end product is Snooki and Adam Sandler...

So everyday young men and women lost those old conventional rules. And - for all that those rules made the "game" of meeting and getting to know someone of the other gender more complex - without them the game becomes much less predictable, and, in a sense, much more dangerous. Without the channel markers we have no charts to the human heart and mind. So we sail out on that fearful main with only our own understanding to steer by. And that is, in my opinion, a very doubtful compass...

So if the medium of Facebook or Twitter or text helps re-establish some of those buoys? Well and good, IMO. My own opinion, though, is that we've developed the habit of speaking or writing first and thinking about what we say or write later, if at all. So the various electronic messages serve, instead, to confuse and complicate as much as provide framework or distance.

Lisa said...

Yes -- we have pitched the rules of the game, and since it was a game, we have lost the channel markers, as you say. Many games (and people) may run on auto-pilot, but now the rules are different (as we say in FLA), or absent.

We are surely not evolved enough to make a clean break for honest commo, so the games continue in a messy welter across the various social platforms. ISTM that rather than "uncovering" ourselves, texting, tweets, etc. allow for even more subterfuge -- we disclose or veil at will, and that constructed persona is so fluid that it may alter many times daily, and is also determined by who gets to view what.

Not only do we construct a social (physical) persona, we can now tweak and re-create virtual representations ad infinitum.

I don't mean to dismiss the good that technology brings (like our commo), it just seems to me that at its worst, it has created layers of complexity to an already open season on the context of human relations. My favorite New Yorker cartoon shows a dog before a computer screen with caption, "Here, no one knows you're a dog."

David Brooks, in his feeble way, attempted to discuss an aspect of this topic in his, Why Men Fail.

Gender relations -- human relations -- has always been so needlessly fraught, ISTM. Then again, we're deceptive monkeys,and that doesn't make for easy understanding

Children are such egocentric creatures, and sans good parental examples, they're already two strokes behind. They revert to instinct, and we know what Hobbes said about that.